Developing an idea and getting it to the stage where it is time to consider a patent is an exciting time. You have worked hard on your vision, and you are ready to get it to the next phase so you can start safely producing and marketing your idea.
The patent process can take a long time since patent officers with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) need to review your patent before granting it. In some cases, a provisional patent can offer you some limited protection while you are waiting for your nonprovisional patent to be accepted.
Here’s what you should know about provisional patents and when they might be a good option for your idea.
Limited protection with a deadline
It is essential to note that a provisional patent does not grant the same protections as a nonprovisional patent. Your provisional patent allows you to use terms like “patent pending” on your product and can act as a starting point.
However, if another inventor has a prior claim on the idea, your provisional patent will likely not supersede their claim.
Your provisional patent lasts for 12 months, and once the time passes, you must have a nonprovisional patent application in process. If you do not have a nonprovisional patent application in progress, you will lose the protections of the provisional patent.
The patent is still pending
A provisional patent has limited protections that expire. Your provisional patent is not a replacement for the nonprovisional process.